At other times it is due to a misapprehension that a declaration of invalidity implies some kind of judgment on that spouse, e.g. that he or she did not strive to make the marriage successful.

However, a declaration of invalidity only means that a marriage – despite the love and efforts of the couple – did not have all the elements essential to marriage in the eyes of the Church.

Clearly, the tribunal process moves more smoothly when sufficient witnesses, including the former spouse, are readily available. These witnesses are needed, not because the tribunal doubts the honesty of the applicant’s account, but simply to ensure there is objective evidence to warrant its judgment.

Family and friends often provide valuable corroboration of how an essential element was not present in a marriage from the beginning.

The tribunal thus relies on due processes, written statements, and corroborating evidence. Sometimes, however, there can be a shortage of witnesses – due to the passage of time, or because people don’t want to get involved, etc.

In these cases, it is usually still possible for the tribunal to reach a decision, based on the applicant’s account and character references. In principle, therefore, the tribunal process is open to all applicants irrespective of the number of witnesses on which he or she is able to rely.